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Silence of the Trout

When I was a child, I thought fishing was horrific.

I could never tie the knots on the line, the hell if I would ever get a bite, and I was bored silly. I wanted to read or explore. I did not want to stand still and be quiet, which was what it took to maintain a spot on the fishing committee.

Oh, and not complain about the cold.

Or ever need to use a restroom.

Countless times my younger siblings or me would cast, and the whole pole would end up in the water. My poor dad. It took years before he had sense to leave us home.

We did not fish rivers; one of us would have been swept away, I am sure of it.

So we fished St. Mary's Lake. I think of it often, and wish I had just written poetry there. There were amazing rocks, with inctredible stories, adventurous characters, and the water would lap the shoreline like a lullabye.

But I never saw fish.

The water was cold and dark, and only expert fishers like my older brothers caught anything.

And when they did, they would wrestle the poor shiny fish off the metal hooks, broken little mouths left gaping and bleeding, and shove them into a plastic bag like the newspaper arrives in every morning.

And those bags would twitch and move for what felt like the longest time. It broke my heart. I wanted to just dump the whole bag back into the water, and give the lake its most incredible sign of life back.

I never saw them move in the water, just be expelled from it. As an adult I have seen their domain. I swam with them in Hawaii. And I marvel at them. I think they are incredible. But I don't want to pull them out.

Those plastic bags are still twitching.

And the story, for me, is etched into the shoreline.

- Mary O. Fumento, 2007

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